g's anyone?

londontype's picture

Typefaces are collections of individual letters, so it's OK if we occasionally fixate on the design of individual letters, right? The distinguishing characteristics of the sans letter, lacking serifs and usually being more or less monolineal, seem more striking than those of the serifed letter. How the letter is drawn, its basic shape, comes to the fore in the absence of concerns about serif shapes & directions, and stroke width. So what about lowercase sans g's. I love the eyeglass style (Gill) and don't like the Frutiger//Futura-style. Does anyone else care?

Miss Tiffany's picture

I think the fixation might happen because some characters are open to more interpretation than other letter.

Note: I'm not a type designer, but one test that a typeface (more often than not) has to pass for me is if I like the way my name looks. I know that is odd, but I know many typefaces that forget the double-f ligature and fail to draw a nice cap W.

dave bailey's picture

There's something fun/unique about drawing lower case g's in the eyeglass style that I enjoy, in more of a display font way rather than monoweight examples like yours.

londontype's picture

Miss Tiffany, to your last point - for signage or titling you might only consider the letters that will be used (or which will be most prominent) when choosing a typeface. The name test is good. I have a few stock phrases that I test with as well. Lowercase "g" like, lc "t", uc "M", and especially uc "R" are bellwether letters for me...

Stephen Coles's picture

Trebuchet is sort of a mess. Here's good whacky:


Mercury

George Horton's picture

Is Trebuchet's g Koch-inspired?

londontype's picture

The eyeglass g is, of course, almost universal in serif printing types. The Frutiger-style g might rightly be called an italic g since it seems to come naturally in calligraphy and cursive writing. Some sans faces with eyeglass g's actually switch to the Frutiger style for italic, like ITC Johnston. Gill keeps the eyeglass for italic, and so does Trebuchet, but the Treb italic g looks really strange.

alchion's picture

i find the most unusual lower case "g" these days are in the works of hubert jocham's
recent Flow and Monday font families.

hubertjocham.de

gabrielhl's picture

Some sans faces with eyeglass g’s actually switch to the Frutiger style for italic,

They don't switch to Frutiger, they switch to cursive... kind of. :)
There was a discussion about single/double-storey g a while ago, about how English sans seemed to generally have double storey while german ones had single storey. Or something like that, I can't find it.

EDIT: Found it: http://typophile.com/node/16494

londontype's picture

Thanks - an excellent thread. Some of the difficulty in talkng about this (and searching for info) is terminological: eyeglass, single- or double-storey (UK?) -story (US). Here's a nice page from No Bodoni which uses unicameral/bicameral as descriptives:
http://www.nobodoni.com/gstory.html

Obviously bicameral/unicameral are best used to describe alphabets. The tdc glossary has the best term for the double-story g - binocular.

James Arboghast's picture

whacky

:^) Cool, Stephen. It looks like a pair of spectacles.

Some of the difficulty in talkng about this (and searching for info) is terminological...

eyeglass

binocular!

I've never heard the form called 'eyeglass' before, until this thread. Always known it as binocular or 'double story' g.

...most unusual lower case “g” these days...

I designed one much more unusual than Jocham's. It can be seen in use helping to spell my name at the top of this page. This font is an upcoming release.

...English sans seemed to generally have double storey while german ones had single storey.

The binocular form is foreign to German blackletters because it isn't a natural cursive form drawn with a calligraphy nib, and blackletters are essentially calligraphic. Binocular g seems to be an Italian invention, and a typographic, metal creature.

It's a hassle sometimes designing one in a font because it stands out in the context of a 'de facto' roman lower case letter set; if I replace the binocular g with a single story g some observers say the set is too modular, at the same time complaining about some other relatively minor thing being "disturbing". In context binocular g is disturbing, or would be if they weren't a widely accepted convention.

And too, a lot of type designers make a cutesy binocular g for their text roman and end up with something that ruins an otherwise well-balanced font. [Edit: this is more common in display fonts]

Despite these dim views of binocular g, I find them irresistable as most type designers do.

j a m e s

Stephen Coles's picture

I designed one much more unusual than Jocham’s. It can be seen in use helping to spell my name at the top of this page. This font is an upcoming release.

Ah yes, James. A fourth category could be added to Brad's list then: one-and-a-half story 'g', or flat bottomed 'g'. Rian Hughes has used it a few times, such as in Regulator. And then there's his floating 'g' in Egret.

gabrielhl's picture

Some of the difficulty in talkng about this (and searching for info) is terminological: eyeglass, single- or double-storey (UK?) -story (US).
Indeed. And it's just as bad in other languages. I'm working on my graduation monograph and I had to translate some quotes from english-language books that dealt with this subject. I literally translated "single/double storey" but felt it sounded weird. Now this thread has reminded me that monocular/binocular might be better, and do sound more... respectable. :)

Obviously bicameral/unicameral are best used to describe alphabets.
But what about ones that have double-storey a and single storey g? Ah, typographic terminology is endlessly problematic... :/

Brian_'s picture

Didn't Eric Gill mention something about g's and eyeglasses in his Essay? I don't think it was a positive thing. He didn't like that g's were used for eyeglasses.. been a while and I don't have the book in front of me.

James Arboghast's picture

Rian Hughes has used it a few times, such as in Regulator.

I knew someone would mention that. This is one of those "Oh my god why does this always freaking happen!" bugbears for type designers. I thought I had come up with something truly original, then Richard and I were discussing it and he showed me Regulator. I thought, Bummer! So it goes....

I'll second "1 + a half" as the proper name for that structure.

That floating g in Egret works: sublime effect. Phantom abstraction is sublime when used with restraint, unless the designer is Novarese.

...double-storey a and single storey g...terminology is endlessly problematic.

Pertinent example. Binocular g is also called "double storey", yet a so-called single storey g is the same structure as a "double story" a.

j a m e s

James Arboghast's picture

There’s something fun/unique about drawing lower case g’s in the eyeglass style...

They're cool because they don't conform. A binocular g stands apart from the pack, but the form is not so different that it presents problems of integration. Integrating them adds a challenge type designers enjoy, and they give a lift to what is otherwise a regimented and conformist idea---the antiqua lower case. The justification for it is like the D in Bank Gothic---it breaks the rule and is the only glyph in the main set with a true curved section. Bank Gothic needs that D because of its O. Text romans need binocular g's for a similar reason---to defeat their modularity. I guess they help readability a tiny bit too by dint of their differentiation from q.

...monocular/binocular might be better, and do sound more… respectable...

'authoritive' is the word I would use in your monograph. As you can see, I'm a nomenclature buff meself :^)

monocular/binocular

Let's not rule out 'trinocular'. A trinocular g has three bowls, the third one sitting to the right and centered on the baseline. This opens up new possibilities---why stop at two?

Q. What kind of type designers put trinocular g's in their fonts?
A. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

j a m e s

puffinry's picture

I’ll second “1 + a half” as the proper name for that structure.

Sesqui(n)ocular?

londontype's picture

More grist for the mill - Wiki (not typowiki) adds the terms open tail and loop tail, and correctly notes that the single-story open-tailed monocular miniscule of maddening mulitple moniker fame is closest to Spurius's original Roman G form.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Single Story - Monocular
Two Story - Binocular
Split-level - Hmmm

James Arboghast's picture

First, I spelt "trinocular" wrong. Should be "tri-ocular".

Sesqui(n)ocular

Maybe. I looked up 'sesqui' in the shorter Oxford and it's Latin for one and a half. The problem with "sesquiocular" is that a one and a half story g has one oculus and a stroke down the bottom, and the stroke isn't half an oculus. See the problem? "ocular" is the problem.

Possibly the best term for this kind of g could be based on its abstract optical properties. Its like the old woman/young lady optical illusion. Look at my g and you can make out two figures in abstract silhouette: 1) A nose with spectacles in profile looking to the left. The bowl is one of the spectacle lenses and the angled piece is the nose in profile. 2) A human figure. The bowl (oculus) is the head, and the angled piece is the body, arguably female as its shaped like a Coco Channel dress from the 1960's.

So;

Coco g
Proboscis g

Come up with some more. This is an abstract naming job.

j a m e s

londontype's picture

Regulator for those who haven't seen it:

dezcom's picture

I guess I will add my own "g" wizz to the frey. What category do these fall into?

ChrisL

londontype's picture

Two-story open-tailed? Or maybe split-level with open floor plan...

James Arboghast's picture

A few g animals I drew last year

Chris, I like the ear on Leporello. I opted for a similar integrated approach in Rhodaelian

j a m e s

track and kern's picture

I think the fixation might happen because some characters are open to more interpretation than other letter.

This is very true. The letter "g" just so happens to be one of which has many variants, and in many cases may be used as a signature character by its creator. As mentioned in the original post, looking at the lower-case, italicized "p" in contrast to the "q" in Gill Sans, is another good example of a designer styling a character into a font signature.

James Arboghast's picture

g is an opportunity letter.

Gill's italic "p" is quite common in the italics of dozens of widely-used book romans, and far from unique to Gill Sans. I wouldn't dub it a signature letter for that reason, and because it's in the italic, not the regular Gill. Eric Gill's signature letter is the Gill Sans "a".

j a m e s

dezcom's picture

"...Gill’s signature letter is the Gill Sans “a”."

That would be exactly the way I see it as well. His roman GillSans g comes to mind second. What the "a" goes through as the weight increases really tells the story.
The italic p and q just come out of the typical caligraphic style.

ChrisL

track and kern's picture

hmm, i have never heard that before, i was always told it was the "p", i will have to look at this again.

Eric_West's picture

The 'a' does it for me too. It looks like it's got an major overbite or something.

James Arboghast's picture

What the “a” goes through as the weight increases really tells the story.

In the heavy weights it becomes an iconic letter design. Evidence for that view comes from the recent popularity of Gill Ultra bold for movie titles. The genre of the movies I'm thinking of is pop culture.

The calligraphic influence on Gill Sans italic, yeah, that's where all those book roman italics got their p from too.

Eric, the overbite effect comes from the robust arm extending full width to the left, a design value most type designers would never consider for a text font. We're always truncating it, probably for out of letter fit paranoia.

j a m e s

londontype's picture

"a major overbite"

Eric, I like to use the overbite/underbite descriptor for lc e's as well. Some e's seem to smile as well, apparently unselfconscious of their dental condition.

Eric_West's picture

Right on Brad.

I like happy e's.

dave bailey's picture

Messing around at work and figured I woul digitze a quick 'g' sketch I did. :-) Some sort of display type glyph...it wouldn't survive at small sizes with the lack of space between the upper and lower stories.

James Arboghast's picture

David that's a beauty!* :-)

It would be very useful for packaging and signage design of the commercial eye-catching variety. To make it practical, sort out the inline to get rid of the overlap, tame the abberation in the lower oculus and make the whole lower storey more compact.

Now make a font out of it ;-) Keep the upward-skewed italic attitude. That's what makes it so suitable for advertising---dynamism.

Another of mine:

This answers to the convention described earlier; antiqua form for the regular font complimented by a cursive form for a matching italic.

* Naw, naw, I don't sport a strong ozzie accent, as in "bewdy"

j a m e s

dave bailey's picture

Oi! :-D I never expected that much enthusiasm about it. I got bored like I said and was drawing on post it notes, saw the thread and drew myself a 'g' in my favorite style! I hear you on the issues you said. If tomorrow is slow I plan on refining it. What do you mean by 'tame the abberation'? are you talking about the lower counter?

James Arboghast's picture

If you reduce the height of the lower bowl and lengthen the stroke joining it to the top one, that will leave plenty of space in between them---whether there's an inline present or not.

The "abberation" is only very slight and worth keeping for flavour, so, Nyyt! forget that crit.

Is the inline built into the glyph, or an effect added when you rendered?

Oh cool, you're from Philadelphia. My favourite U.S city.

j a m e s

londontype's picture

James - your italic g is nice, really close in spirit to Spurius's original Roman G. I believe your pair is a winner.

dave bailey's picture

The “abberation” is only very slight and worth keeping for flavour, so, Nyyt! forget that crit.

Fair enough, I was just wondering what you were referring to since I've never heard that term before. I'm assuming that you're talking about the sharp corner in the top left of the lower oculus.

Is the inline built into the glyph, or an effect added when you rendered?

The inline is actually the original sketch, but when I digitized it, the glyph didn't seem to have enough impact by itself...hence the added decoration. You're thinking that I should go with the outline shape for the glyph?

Oh cool, you’re from Philadelphia. My favourite U.S city.

That's where I go to school, but I'm currently living in NYC.

EDIT: I've kinda hijacked this thread...but how does it look going in this direction, Frank?

James Arboghast's picture

Go with the inline/outline treatment, but make the outer border (black line) and the white inline, wider so it will work at smaller sizes.

To get the extra width for those, rather than eating into the glyph body, grow them outwards. The overlap of the first sketch was part of its charm. Now that you have breathing space between the bowls, thicken the outline/inline until the edges of the bowls come close to touching, but not quite.

Sorry I've got you going in two different directions.

j a m e s

James Arboghast's picture

I never expected that much enthusiasm about it.

It may not look like much, and it isn't if you judge its worth on things like modulation, rigour, contrast between counter and outer contour, distinctive shaping/sculpting. But its a no bullshit happy kind of grotesk letter with an unassuming plainness certain kinds of advertising design thrive on. It makes no cultural assumptions thru fashionable high-style or snooty appeal. Its honest & friendly. That also makes it versatile. The happy-dynamic bent and inline treatment gives it visual impact in the absense of sophisticated design.

I often set text on large scale out-of-home ads in one or another grotesk font---I have access to a large collection---for subject matter that needs it, where a trendy sophisticated type design would alienate the target consumers.

j a m e s

dave bailey's picture

How's this look? I'm thinking if I'm going to expand this beyond the 'g' I should start a new thread. Thanks for all your comments...when I initially was working on it, the AD here walked by and was like 'that's rad' and it made me smile...cause I liked it too. I'm glad you're as enthusiastic about it. The enthusiasm gives me motivation to continue with it. There are some obvious places that need cleaning up where the offset path is rather pointy but for now it's cool.

istitch's picture

i think it's super sweet when the g's are different on the italic. especially when it goes from a two story to a more cursive g with a tail that wips back.

…so freeking cool!

-------
nc

rezmason's picture

It's funny that you guys bring up the 'g'- Around this time last year, I began to wonder about it myself.

I did some research-- it looks like the bicameral, two-storey spectacles 'g' came about through the mingling of the carolinian 'g' with the insular 'g', becoming the Middle English 'yogh'. You can read up on that by clicking here.

Interestingly, the bicameral 'g' had at one point entirely stamped out the unicameral 'g'. The latter wasn't revived until the development of the first modern typefaces- when typographers began looking for ways to simplify letters, the bifocal 'g' was an obvious target.

It's interesting to see how many variants the 'g' has, and that so many of them are recognizable instantly as the same letter, without question. It demonstrates how language can still change in times of globalization and grand cultural diffusion.

I personally perceive at the bipartisan 'g' as a written form, even when it's present in a modern font. I was experimenting with it here:


(click here for larger version)

londontype's picture

I take the binocular g to be warmer and the monocular to be colder (Northern European?) - especially in sans/non-italic. I also have an idea that when I was a kid I thought of the serif book face binocular g as a "real" g and the monocular as a phony that I could only poorly excecute. The fact that the monocular g is closest in form to Spurius' original form is beside the point...

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Speaking of g?

This is a sneak-preview of a new typeface, Neptuna, (will be released this year).

The g to the right is the standard figure, but the other letters are to be found on alternate places in the font for those who are interested in experimenting with the words.

Personally I like the two middle ones, the best - but the Foundry that will distribute Neptuna, prompted to do a regular g aswell - as shown to the right. Probably a good idea since many people perhaps like to use standard shapes.

However, as we placed the alternate g's in the font - people can chose whatever shape they want, and combine them. It's quite nice when you print words with two following g, like "begging", "dragging" or something, and chose to use two different versions :)

dave bailey's picture

^^^ This is an interesting development. Thanks for the preview!

hrant's picture

> Does anyone else care?

Dude.

--

The "g" is the only really interesting character in the Latin alphabet.

> Didn’t Eric Gill mention something about g’s and eyeglasses in his Essay?

Ezzactly. If he were here I think he might've
throttled Brad... But I'd be on Brad's side.

> A binocular g stands apart from the pack, but the form is
> not so different that it presents problems of integration.

Actually, I think the conventional form of the binocular "g" with the closed bottom bowl is in fact too divergent from the essence of the Latin lowercase. I greatly prefer the open-bottom binocular form, although it's rarely done right (not that the closed form is done right too often either).

> What kind of type designers put trinocular g’s in their fonts?

Maybe Alessio Leonardi. Think Forchetta.

> Regulator

Huh, Hobo.

Goran: nice.

BTW, check THIS out:
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/horned_g.gif

hhp

londontype's picture

If he were here I think he might’ve
throttled Brad

Or worse - we're talking about Gill after all!

My real question was whether type users like me (as opposed to type designers) care more about the look of a typeface as a whole, not worrying so much about the peculiar forms of individual letters. G is obviously a letter that people feel passionately about, which I suspected.

hrant's picture

Actually I'd say that non-type-designers care more
about individual letterforms (I mean consciously).

hhp

James Arboghast's picture

Yes, when they're conscious of what they're looking at.

Actually, I think the conventional form of the binocular “g” with the closed bottom bowl is in fact too divergent from the essence of the Latin lowercase. I greatly prefer the open-bottom binocular form, although it’s rarely done right (not that the closed form is done right too often either).

Technically you're right. The full binocular form is a stand-out. Yet, even tho it is true they go against the essence of antiqua lower case, they are widespread in text romans, and integrated readily enuff by the brain/mind. What designers won't integrate the brain will. Or maybe it's really a mind trick :^)

The ideal g solution is, I think, the Schwabacher form. It's differentiated from p-d, b-q, and suggestive of binocular g without seriously breaching cursive flow.

Maybe Alessio Leonardi. Think Forchetta.

Thanks for the references. I'll check those out. I was imagining a tri-ocular unit arranged like the futuristic vehicle seen in a particular painting by Chris Foss.

Hrant, that horned g is cool. Not just the horn but the stressing thruout the rest of it---is it an example of Bloemsma-inspired ordered irregularity? The horn, looking like Tin Tin's shock of yellow hair, makes the whole thing anthropomorphic. It could be practical in a display font if you tame the length of the horn some.

I take the binocular g to be warmer and the monocular to be colder (Northern European?) - especially in sans/non-italic.

They have that effect, yes.

j a m e s

hrant's picture

> integrated readily enuff by the brain/mind

I posit that we don't know that. There's reason to believe that -especially when it's doubled- the closed-bottom binocular "g" can cause a -minor- reading hiccup. In contrast, the only people who are really adversely affected by the open-bottom binocular "g" are... certain type designers! :-)

> is it an example of Bloemsma-inspired ordered irregularity?

No, I think it's just tom-foolery.
It's actually from an early 20th-century ATF face.

> Tin Tin’s shock of yellow hair

I was thinking Elvis.

hhp

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